David Coffin’s Making Trousers isn’t so much as to how to sew a pair of trousers as it is taking a basic trouser pattern (one that you are sure that fits you) and adding those features which will make those trousers your absolutely favorite pair.
The book is accompanied by a DVD that provides supplemental material. The book I have is paper binding and the production is on a nice gloss paper filled with lots of photos and colored drawings.
I love the first chapter of this book where Coffin disassembles read-to-wear trousers and shows quality construction in everything from a pair of jeans to Yves Saint Laurent garments. He also has a pair of 1932 custom-tailored trousers. He carefully discusses the merits of each and has a nice set of observations (he calls them conclusions) at the end of the chapter. One observation that I have made myself is that there are no special techniques or features to a pair of well-made man’s pants that can’t and shouldn’t be applied to a woman’s pant. As he says “Choose whichever treatment you’d like. If you’re interested in adding some “gender” to project, do it with color and fabric.”
In chapter two, Coffin highlights basic tools and supplies that will assist you in creating a professional looking pair of trousers. One item that he recommends is a pair of hemostats. Good idea. I need to add that to my shopping list. The other that I am going to have to have is the set of buttonhole cutters. He continues with a discussion of fabrics and linings best suited for this project.
He goes on to talk about the basic construction of pants. He advocates developing a master pattern that can be adapted to various styles of pockets, flies, waistbands, hems, and cuffs. Pockets, fly fronts, and waistbands all earn their own chapters. All have excellent photographs and line drawings to support the text.
Chapter seven is a veritable potpourri of tips and applications that will make the trousers a well finished garment. One of the most interesting to me is the section on using a stay to control the pleats on the front of the pants. This stay allows the pocket to carry the weight of the waist and the pleats to hang free and drape as they are supposed to.
In the last chapter, Coffin shares a series of his projects. The accompanying DVD shows additional photographs of these projects. In a pair of women’s plaid pants, he admits “the vertical stripes on the pocket facings match the fronts when the garment is flat on the table, but not when worn.” (Now haven’t we all done that one!)
He ends the book with an excellent list of sources by product type. (Be aware that his reference for Stanley Hostek is out of date; Hostek’s books are now available through http://stanleyhostek.com) His list of further reading is ranked by books that he feels are essential and then those that are curiosities. He doesn’t leave it with just books. He also refers to Claire Shaeffer’s Vogue Pattern 7568 and articles in Threads.
I am immensely pleased with this addition to my sewing library. As my focus for the next year is to improve my tailoring techniques, I see this book as being a true inspiration.